How We Keep Our Days Sane and Smooth

This post is sponsored by Similac as part of the Sisterhood of Motherhood campaign.

I’m sure a lot of the parents have heard the saying above more than once: The days are long but the years are short. And, boy, does it ring true. Life with a little one is typically all-consuming and the majority of my day centers around Quinn. He’s a really happy baby and usually easy to please, but, even still, he likes activity””new toys, new people, new surroundings””so we’re often on-the-go or doing something. And when he’s napping, I’m running around the house like a crazy person trying to get things done or finish up blog stuff, so, not surprisingly, I’m often pooped by the time he goes to bed. And, of course, I know staying home and raising my son is a privilege; I am very lucky, but I also think it’s totally okay to be tired by the end of the day and look forward to a glass of wine. That said, here are some of the things we do to help keep our day sane and running smoothly.

The morning nap is a must. We have Quinn on a pretty good nap schedule. His afternoon nap is still pretty flexible. We just feel him out, and he usually goes down anywhere from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, but his morning nap is one that we really try to be consistent about. It’s his longest nap of the day and if he misses it, he is cranky for the rest of the day. Holy cow, is he cranky. He usually goes down for it without an issue, but if he fights it, I’ll do everything in my power to get him to sleep. Hello, Marylou’s drive thru!

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I make dinner during naptime. When I am home with Quinn during the week, I use his naps as an opportunity to make dinner. I also clean up around the house and do a various chores, but my main priority is dinner, so when Mal gets home, we can spend time together with our little peanut. It just makes our evenings together run more smoothly””one less thing to think about!

We get out at least once a day. Even in the dead of winter when we had seven feet on snow on the ground, I made it a point to get out of the house with Quinn at least once a day””going to KFIT, seeing family/friends, running errands around town, taking a walk with Murphy. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter what we do as long as we’re out of the house. We both enjoy being out and about, so it’s good for the both of us!

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We keep things organized with rotating toy bins. The toy situation in our living room was getting a bit out of control, so we bought this toy bin organizer a couple of months ago, and it’s been life-changing every since. We take one or two bins at a time from Quinn’s bedroom into the living room, so he has a bunch of toys to play with, but it’s no crazy-messy either.

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We stick to a bedtime routine. Around 5:30/6:00 PM every night, we start Quinn’s bedtime routine. Every other night, it includes a bath, and, every night, it involves dinner, PJs, and books. We stick to this routine””although the duration varies from night to night””and it helps get the little guy to bed without a problem.

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Mal and I spend 20 minutes cleaning up the house after dinner. This makes such a huge difference in both how we feel going to bed and waking up the next morning.

Question of the Day

What do you do to keep your day sane and running smoothly?

41 Comments

  1. My husband and I used to clean up before bed too and I forgot that until just now. Even though we may not clean up the whole house, I at least makes sure I do all the dishes bc I hate waking up to sink full of dirty ones!

  2. I don’t have any kids, but having a planner has tremendously helped me! No longer am I wondering if I’m missing something, or have to plan things on the fly. I write everything down now and everything runs much smoother 🙂

    1. @Britt@MyOwnBalance:

      I couldn’t agree with this more:

      “I just give in to the fact that I can’t do everything everyday.”

      I had trouble accepting that at first but now that I have I am enjoying life alot more with less stress!

  3. Aww the story time picture reminds me of when my dad would read to us every night. We’d open our bedroom doors and he had a chair in the hallway and would read all kinds of books. The best part is that my dad would do all the character voices. It was awesome. Great memories. <3

  4. Quinn is just so darling!! I feel you with the wine at the end of the day! 😉 I have a full time job ( which I hate and am trying to make changes when I find the time), but I do that job 2-3 days from home which is the only ‘good’ thing about my current job. When I’m home, and baby is napping, and I have work downtime or take my ‘lunch break’, you better believe I pick up the house!

    Laundry, vaccuming, dusting, organizing, dinner. It keeps me sane because I know it’s done and throughout our crazy workweek, it’s just what works for us! I think it also really puts things into perspective when you both realize the different duties you do for each other. My husband ( who also works from home most days) pays all the bills, excel spreadsheet, budget, everything. That’s not my thing. He also buys most of the baby daily necessities we need in bulk from Sams Club or Babies R Us when he does errands. I haven’t seen him pick up a vacuum in 2 years but again, we do what works for us. I can’t really complain. I’m also one of those people that I feel I’d do a better job with the cleaning stuff anyway. Hello Monica Gellar. 😉

  5. Getting out of the house is so important when you have a little one and a bit of adult conversation is always good. My boys are teens now, so just planning for the week ahead on Sundays help my days run smoothly.

  6. To keep my day sane and running smoothly I prep for it the night before! Once B goes to bed I make my lunch and his lunch for the next day. I pack his diaper bag and I also get the dog’s food ready so that come 7am we are all out the door and I don’t feel frazzled. (especially when my husband is traveling!)

    I also work from home on Wednesdays so I take time during my lunch break to do any major cleaning I want to get done around the house. Because, as you mentioned, my time at home revolves around my little guy. And now that he is 5 months old he wants activity! I’m so grateful for the nice New England weather now…we will be putting some miles on our chicco jogging stroller!

  7. Getting out of the house is such an important part of our day. It helps me recharge and mitchell always takes an awesome nap after all of the fresh air, sun and sights!

  8. What a sweet boy! I try to make sure we get fresh air every day, regardless of weather. Even if it’s a walk to the end of the block and back in some drizzle, I really like to get out. It’s definitely good for me and I think our little man loves it, too.

  9. It’s funny how having a baby has made me love routines and schedules. For me, it’s getting out of the house with my 7 month old…and, not just getting out but going for a really long walk. It helps me clear the cobwebs and B likes it, too.

    Love the toy bins. I was justresearching storage solutions because his toys are getting out of control. Also, love the Going to Bed Book! We read it every night, too 🙂

  10. Thanks for the tips! I love the photos you always share. I’m finding it hard to keep my sanity being a working mom at one full-time job, plus a freelance writer on the side, who is basically raising her 10-week-old daughter on her own (my husband is currently living/working in another city until I can find a job there and we can move). It’s so frustrating to know the to-do list is constantly growing and deadlines are hanging over my head, but our evenings are all encompassing because she wants me to hold her all the time after daycare (my mother says she misses me). I find myself wishing she were older to entertain herself, or at least be able to sit up so I didn’t have to hold her all the time, but the I remind myself that she won’t be this little, or want to snuggle against me, for much longer. It’s the one time my mind is calm.

  11. I definitely think keeping a clean and organized home makes my days go way smoother.. I don’t let it go too messy so I never have to spend much time cleaning! I’m sure that will change when I eventually have kids haha

  12. So much of this is similar to what we do! Amen to cleaning up after she’s in bed (I can’t leave the mess, just CAN’T!), and sticking to nap/bedtime routines and getting out of the house daily–helps so much!

    Good idea about the rotating toy bins!

  13. This is totally us too! I feel so very fortunate to be able to stay home and have a great husband who actually enjoys doing things as a family. I do get frustrated by the way it feels sometimes as a SAHM that you aren’t allowed to ever have a bad day or get tired because you aren’t “going” to work every day.

  14. hi Tina,

    Such a great post! I’m definitely a planner as well and as the mom of an 11 day old, that’s gone a bit out the window (yesterday was a big day as I both made dinner and folded half a basket of laundry! ;)). Just wondering, at what age did you start the nighttime ritual and planned naps?

    Thanks!

  15. I’ve learned that getting up a half hour before the rest of the family so that I can sit in the quiet with a cup of coffee is vital to my having a smooth day.

  16. Great tips. I found that I was running myself ragged trying to stay on top of an endless to-do list, so I actually started making a point to SIT DOWN and relax during my kids’ nap, because there is literally no other time during the day when you can do that. (I think we don’t fully understand how constantly “on” physically and emotionally one has to be with young kids until we have them ourselves.) I started doing this when my first got mobile and I realized I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without him wanting to be there (or else throwing a huge fit). And then once I had two kids I really made a point to sit down, because then your down time is extra precious! With number three due in 6 weeks, well… wish me luck 🙂

  17. Your devotion to dinner every night is inspiring!! I think home cooked family dinners are grounding and stabilizing for kids and parents.

  18. Hello! Long time no comment 🙂 I recently started doing a cleaning schedule. Monday, vacuum, Tuesday, bathrooms, etc. This way all I have to do is that one task at night. Once that is done, then the cleaning is done for the night. Even if the bathrooms are still yucky and I have time to clean them, I don’t. They’ll be on the list for tomorrow or at some point in the next 7 days and I will do them then. That way I make sure I’m not trying to do it all at once (because then I feel overwhelmed) and I’m building in downtime for myself. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s easier just to say “forget it – I’m not cleaning anything!” This way, things get cleaned at least once a week which is better than what it was before!

  19. The schedule and routine is key! I always had to get out once a day too while I was home with my little guy, like you said, good for everyone 🙂 even better now that it is nice out! hang on to those morning naps as long as you can!!! I miss those days, ha…

  20. And I just bought the toy organizer! I’m starting to lose track of his toys and I’ve been finding some in the dog’s bed, ha!

  21. Those are some great tips and ones I will keep in mind for the future!
    My husband and I prep our breakfast and lunch (usually leftovers from dinner) before going to bed, as well as getting out and ironing our clothes for the next day. Since we usually work out in the afternoons, we also shower so we don’t have to worry about it in the morning (and, obviously, to get out of our gross, sweaty clothes!).

  22. I wrote a post of all of my routines that I’ve shared over the years that keep my life running smoothly today! In October I’m adding a baby to the mix so I would love to hear more about your nightly/morning routine and any organizational tips!

  23. I agree, spending a few minutes picking up the house every day makes a huge difference! Then I don’t have to dedicate a big portion of my day off catching up.

  24. To have the best day I possibly can I will always take baby out for a run or walk every morning in the stroller (unless it’s raining for snowing). I will also exercise each day so that I keep feeling happy, healthy, and energetic, to be able to look after my one-year-old. Having a set routine is important to help the day run smoothly, while of course being flexible at the same time. The main things to keep me sane are yoga, running, walking, and making sure baby has a good afternoon nap every day. Also listening to music and watching my little one dancing around to it is super fun 🙂

  25. These are the best. With a 5 week old we are a bit more flexible but I am trying to figure out what is and is not working for us to build a better routine. I love those crib sheets. Where are they from?

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